People who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome often find that a proper diet can make a world of difference in their overall health. Chances are good that you are already aware of specific foods that trigger your IBS attack. Perhaps you have also noticed that at times you are able to eat these same foods and not experience any problems. There’s no doubt about it, Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be a very perplexing and frustrating syndrome.
There are two groups of foods known to adversely affect IBS: Gastrointestinal stimulants and gastrointestinal irritants. Stimulants include caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Irritants include foods that are high in fat, eggs, dairy products, spicy foods, insoluble fiber, artificial sweeteners, and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Both gastrointestinal stimulants and irritants can cause violent reactions of the gastrocolic reflex, which plays an important role in the movement of food through the digestive tract. If the response is too quick, diarrhea or gas can occur. If the response is too slow, bloating, pain and constipation can occur. Learning which foods trigger your gastrocolic reflex will assist you in creating a personalized IBS diet.
Eating an IBS diet does not mean you have to deprive or starve yourself. It doesn’t mean you’ll be eating tofu burgers and drinking wheat grass at your local health food store; unless you want to. It does mean that you’ll need to learn how to eat safely and intelligently.
Physiologically, different foods affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The list that follows includes foods that are known IBS triggers. However, this does not mean that you will have to eliminate them for the rest of your life. Chances are good that once you restore intestinal balance, you will be able to reintroduce them in small amounts. Others may not be affected at all by foods on the list.
The best way to determine how food affects you is to keep a food journal. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but should include the date, time, food you ate, and any symptoms or benefits that occur. The more you learn how food affects you; the better equipped you will be to make healthy choices.
Foods Known to Trigger Irritable Bowel Syndrome [http://www.my-irritable-bowel-syndrome.com] Symptoms
Meat: I know this is painful to hear, but meat is the biggest IBS offender. This includes ALL meat, except for fish and skinless white meat from poultry. Cold cuts are some of the worst offenders and should be avoided at all costs. Oftentimes, they contain nitrates as a preservative, and high levels of monosodium glutamate – a known IBS trigger.
Dairy products. There are several reasons you should avoid dairy products. First, dairy products trigger IBS symptoms due to the high fat content. Second, dairy products can trigger an attack even if you aren’t lactose intolerant. Third, dairy products are known to promote cytokine production, which leads to inflammation throughout the body. Fourth, eating casein (a milk protein) causes your body to produce histamines, resulting in excess mucus production.
Oftentimes, people with IBS are instructed to eat yogurt to restore “friendly” bacteria in the gut. Although fermentation has reduced the lactose levels, yogurt still contains whey and casein, and should be avoided.
Egg yolks. Egg yolks and dairy products are high in arachidonic acid. This is the same substance that makes meats so inflammatory. If you are going to eat eggs, you should only eat the whites.
Meat, dairy products, and egg yolks are by far the most dangerous for individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome [http://www.my-irritable-bowel-syndrome.com]. Their high fat count causes violent gastrointestinal and colon spasms and triggers diarrhea. For others, the high level of animal protein, coupled with a lack of fiber and low water content, can lead to severe constipation. These three food categories pose the highest risk and should be eliminated from your diet.
People engaging in an IBS diet need to watch their fat intake, as foods high in fat are known to trigger IBS symptoms. Common high fat foods include:
- Anything fried (deep fried or pan fried) – French fries, onion rings, hash browns, fried chicken, hash browns, hot wings, corn dogs
- Dressings and oils – Mayonnaise, salad dressing, shortening, margarine, butter, spreads, tartar sauce
- Baked goods – breads, biscuits, scones, pastries, doughnuts, pie crust
- Snack foods – potato chips, corn chips, crackers
Known Irritable Bowel Syndrome Irritants
- Alcohol – triggers IBS attacks, especially on an empty stomach.
- Artificial sweeteners – Aspartame, Sucralose (also known as Splenda), Acesulfame K, Neotame, and Saccharin. Artificial sweeteners can trigger pain, cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhea in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Caffeine – coffee, tea, chocolate, diet pills
- Carbonation – used to create the “fizzing” action in soft drinks and mineral water. Carbonation has been known to cause bloating and cramps in some individuals with IBS.
- Coffee – both regular and decaf contain an enzyme that is known to irritate the GI tract.
- Monosodium glutamate or MSG – an additive used to enhance the flavor of foods. There is much evidence connecting MSG to all sorts of digestive problems.